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Economy / Business

Tampa Considers Moratorium Sweepstakes Cafe


Tampa City Council will vote next Thursday on whether to put a temporary moratorium on granting business licenses to internet “sweepstakes” cafes that offer online gambling.

Today, council members discussed regulatory options and settled on holding another workshop in 60 days, but they also voted to consider an abatement ordinance that would impose a temporary moratorium on any future “sweepstakes cafes” until regulations are in place.

“You can’t have simulcasting, you can’t have poker, you can’t have live this, live that,” said Tampa Council Chairman Charlie Miranda as he ran down the list of some of the regulations being considered.

Miranda confessed that he didn’t really understand what the online computer gaming did or did not do “other than take your money.”

He hopes the city legal department that will come back with an ordinance that will “close the door on any future gambling out of these small areas.”

Tampa City Council members are looking at an ordinance regulating the cyber cafes similar to one adopted in Jacksonville. That ordinance charges a business fee per “machine” for inspections.

The Jacksonville ordinance reportedly has not been challenged in court. Regulatory attempts by Seminole and Hillsborough counties are currently facing legal challenges.

Tampa City Council is scheduled to vote on whether to adopt a “sweepstakes café” moratorium during its Sept. 27 meeting. The temporary moratorium could last 120 days or up to 6 months, but no longer as recommended by the city’s legal department.

A council workshop to discuss permanent “sweepstakes café” regulations is set November 29th.

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